Thursday is my endoscopy day at Texas Children’s Hospital. Room 2 in the Endoscopy Suite is where I conduct my business.
If you visit Room 2 you’ll find a stethoscope hanging on the coat hook. I started scoping here in 1994 and it’s been around as long as I can remember. Every Thursday as I wash my hands I look at the stethoscope and assume that by next week it will be reunited with its rightful owner.
But it never seems to happen.
There’s an unwritten code in teaching hospitals: You don’t pick up a stethoscope that’s not your own. So it sits loyally awaiting its owner.
I’m guessing one of a couple of things about the owner of this stethoscope:
- They abandoned the stethoscope after the realization that they never really understood how to interpret its sounds.
- They chose to revert to direct auscultation (ear-to-chest listening).
- They decided just to order an echo.
Of course there’s always the chance that its owner simply left it by mistake.
Most of us here respect the code. And like an appendage of history that becomes increasingly less valuable with the passage of time, I suspect that the stethoscope in Room 2 will remain on that hook for years to come.